As I reflect on what makes one entrepreneur last while another tanks, I’m aware of a few common characteristics among those who make it in the long haul. Particularly with the word “recession” continually floating around these days and the threat of a changing economic environment, noticing what successful people in this industry have in common is a valuable study.
I’ve boiled my list down to five characteristics I see that the most successful boutique event rental entrepreneurs I know have in common.
Discerning Eye for Style
Many people starting out in this industry are creative and have a great eye. They’ve always put things together well in their home or people have raved about the parties they throw. But when it comes to their business, their design sensibility has to go a step beyond that. In addition to being able to pick out matching or coordinating pieces, they have to have a sense of the whole. Their collection isn’t hodge-podge or random. Even if it eclectic, it is intentional.
They edit their collections continuously and are constantly honing their style. Their collection reflects their brand and it is distinctive.
Ability to Tolerate Risk
While other event business owners may be able to pay for their expenses after they’ve collected a deposit, rental business owners have to be bold. They have to invest in rental inventory, make bold purchases, commit to warehouses and staffing decisions, and anticipate trends. They can’t be risk averse if they want to be successful.
They don’t make decisions willy-nilly though either. They calculate the cost, make strategic decisions, and then act with confidence.
Along those lines, when they’ve made a mistake, they recover quickly and do what they can to resolve it; they sell the items that aren’t moving, they let the underperforming employee go, they eat the losses and apologize to the client. They do so with empathy and heart— they aren’t unfeeling— but they don’t dwell on the coulda woulda shouldas.
The successful event rental business owners I know are self-aware. They spend time thinking about their internal reactions before they act. They evaluate how their perspective might be perceived.
They aren’t people pleasers but they certainly weigh how their internal state impacts their decisions and those around them. They recognize that it shouldn’t cost their employees anything to work for them.
To borrow a phrase from my business coach Jeff Tanner, they know themselves to lead themselves to lead others.
Whether they come by it naturally or they’ve trained themselves to do it, great event rental business owners delegate. They surround themselves with an excellent team. In fact, they hire people who are better at parts of the job than they are. They aren’t threatened by this competency, they thrive in it.
They have realized the value in letting go so that they can grow and scale a business. That doesn’t mean that they’ve abandoned their standards. Rather, it means that they see how much more they can accomplish with a team than without one. Or with one that’s handicapped by them being a control freak.
Attention to the Numbers
Successful rental entrepreneurs pay attention to the numbers in their business. They may not be naturally comfortable with accounting or math but they dive in and get their hands dirty. They get all the help they need to stay on top of the financial statements in their business.
They are particularly interested in cashflow and profitability. While they may have lots of noble goals in their business (create beautiful things, employee single mothers, provide free rentals for birthday parties for underprivileged kids), they recognize that profit is the method by which they’ll achieve them.
They make smart purchasing decisions, staffing choices, and pricing strategies all based on the numbers in their business. And they constantly go back to them to iterate and improve their model.
Whether you have one, some, or all of these characteristics, I hope that you’ll find yourself continuing to strive for excellence in your event rental business. Entrepreneurs come in many forms and flavors but of the most success ones I’ve seen in this business, they’ve got killer style, confidence in the face of risk, self-awareness, delegation skills, and their eye on the numbers.